How to Control Access, Restrict Results, and Handle Duplicate Votes
RankedVote defaults to openness. Anyone can participate if they have the Vote Link. But, there are times where restricting access is important. You may only want certain people to vote. Or, you may want to do a dramatic reveal of the results at a specific time.
Whatever it is, read on to find out how to configure your RankedVote contest they way you'd like to accomplish your goals and increase trust in the results.
Getting to the Details Page
Just like the other settings in RankedVote, Access is set from the Details page. The Details page is where you land immediately after creating your contest. You can always get back to it by clicking the "Details" button for the contest from the Dashboard.
You'll find the Access area about halfway down on the Details page.
Control Who Can Vote
By default, your contest will be open to anyone to participate. You can change these default settings to add more friction to the process, capture information, or even fully restrict participation to a predefined group.
Setting "Voter Registration" to "Yes" adds a Sign In step to the voter experience. Anyone with the link can still vote. But, before seeing the ballot, voters are required to enter in a name and email (or unique ID).
As votes come in, if you're on a Pro Plan (or higher), you'll see the email/IDs entered in a "Voter Details" section that will appear just under the "Allowed Voters" section.
Note: By setting "Voter Registration" to "Yes" and leaving Allowed Voters "Open to all," you can use your RankedVote contest as a way to build up an email list.
If you want to go a step further and restrict who can vote, then you'll need to take advantage of the "Allowed Voters" setting.
When an Allowed Voter List is active, voters need to enter an email or unique ID that matches one of the values in the list. If the value entered doesn't match the list, they are not allowed to vote. If the value entered matches, but has already voted, they are also not allowed to vote.
How to set up Allowed Voters
The Allowed Voter List is a comma-separated list of values (e.g. value1, value2, value3). You'll need to get your voter list into this format for the values to be separated out correctly. Otherwise, the list will just think it's a single voter long with a massive ID to enter. If you're coming from a spreadsheet or other list, there are helpful tools just a Googling away to get them in a comma-separated format.
Once you have your comma-separated list, copy and paste it into the field, and click "Save." Your list is now active.
Even though you list is entered on a one line entry field, it can handle thousands of values. Upon saving, you'll see the text update to display "[number] voters allowed" where the number should match your expectations for the list.
Removing the voter list
Click "Edit," then simply highlight the entire list by triple-clicking or using your device's "Select All" ability (usually Ctrl+A), and then hit delete or backspace on your keyboard. This should remove all entries. Click "Save" and the list should now be described as "Open to All."
Subscribers on the Pro Plan (or higher) have the ability to upload CSV files of the allowed voter list directly. This is great for large lists.
Simply select a .csv file on your computer and RankedVote will analyze it for the list. If there's only one column in your CSV, it will assume that's your voter list. If there are multiple columns, a dropdown will display with the name of each column in the CSV. Select the appropriate column and RankedVote will preview the list.
Once you've selected the correct list, click "Confirm" and you're good to go!
Restrict Results Until You're Ready
By default, every voter is encouraged to view the "Preliminary Results" after voting. RankedVote's mission is to popularize reforms like ranked choice voting and this is a key component of educating people about how it works.
But, there are times where you may want to keep those results hidden until the time is right.
To restrict results to only the person who created the contest, go to Results Visibility, click "Edit," change the dropdown to "Only contest creator" and click "Save."
Only a person signed into the RankedVote account of the contest's creator will be able to see the Results page. All others will see a blocking message that says "Private Results." If votes are still coming in, there will no longer be a link to check out the preliminary results after voting.
To perform a "big reveal" where you release the results more broadly, simply switch the visibility back to "Open to all."
Handling Duplicate Votes
If you're concerned about your voters misbehaving and attempting to sway the results of your contest, there are a number of tools at your disposal. These tools can be combined to multiply their effects. Below are a few example configurations ranging from light to heavy restrictions.
"Wait and See" (Lightest)
Most of the time, people are well behaved. They don't cheat. They don't vote twice. They don't spam results. So, most of the time, you don't need to take action unless needed.
In this approach, you do nothing prior to sending out the vote link. Then, as votes come in, you keep an eye on the "Duplicate Voter Monitoring" section. If RankedVote sees potential duplicate votes, it will let you know here. You can then choose whether or not you want to turn on the "Deduplicate Results" feature which will disregard subsequent votes from what appears to be the same voter. In other words, only the first vote counts.
Note: Deduplicate Results only changes how RankedVote calculates the results, not the votes themselves. So you can feel free to toggle between "Yes" and "No" as much as you'd like.
"Some Friction" (Reasonable)
If you feel like your contest may invite some people to misbehave, like when it's one that's open to the web and shared on social media, you can take preemptive steps to discourage misbehavior.
First, you can set "Deduplicate Results" to "Yes" before the Vote Link is shared. This removes the incentive that bad actors might get from actively seeing the results change as they vote multiple times.
Second, you can set "Results Visibility" to "Only contest creator" for the same reason. If bad actors can't see the results, they can't see their impact.
Third, you can set "Voter Registration" to "Yes" to create a bit more friction. Bad actors will need to re-enter name and unique IDs with each attempted vote.
"Lock it Down" (Heaviest)
If you're really concerned about outside influence and you know who should be participating in your contest, then you can restrict it to specifically to that those people.
To fully restrict your contest, you'll need to use "Voter Registration" (Yes), "Allowed Voters" (List entered), "Results Visibility" (Only contest creator), and possibly "Deduplicate Results" (Yes).
The Allowed Voter List is the key part. By only allowing IDs on the list to vote and vote only once, the amount of trickery a bad actor can get up to is limited. There can never be more votes than there are IDs on your list.
The only way bad actors can cast additional votes is if they can 1) figure out other IDs that are on the list and 2) be the first to cast a vote with that ID. If you are creating your own list of IDs and distributing them directly to your voters, this is excessively difficult to do.
But, the most common set of IDs used is email addresses. Those may be known to the group. And could be open to impersonation by a bad actor.
In the event this happens, the real voter will get a "That ID has already been used" message when they sign in to vote. The real voter can then let you know that something is amiss. You then should take two actions to set things right.
First, set "Deduplicate Results" to "Yes." The bad actor's vote will likely be removed by this action. Second is to add a new ID to the Allowed Voter List and to share that ID directly with the real voter. This ID can be anything you want.
Once added to the list and communicated to the voter, that voter will be able to cast a vote.